Match: Fulham vs Aston Villa
Competition: FA Cup Third Round
Date: Saturday 4th January 2020
Venue: Craven Cottage
Knockaert 54, Arter 74
El Ghazi 63
Nyland, Taylor, Chester, Engels, Elmohamady, Nakamba (Vassilev), Lansbury, Hourihane, Jota (Trezeguet), El Ghazi, Kodija. Unused subs: Kalinic, Konsa, Trezeguet, Guilbert, Hause, Vassilev, Ramsey.
Story in brief
Aston Villa exited the FA Cup after suffering a narrow defeat at the hands of Fulham.
A low key first half almost sprang to life with the final kick of the first 45 minutes, but Marek Rodak got down smartly to deny Anwar El Ghazi.
The hosts improved after the break and took the lead when Anthony Knockaert cut inside and curled a superb effort past Orjan Nyland.
The visiting Villans were battling hard though and they found a leveller when Jonathan Kodija lifted the ball over Rodak and El Ghazi tapped it home.
And just as Dean Smith's men began to take the initiative, substitute Harry Arter drilled a long range effort into the top corner to send Villa out of the FA Cup.
Taking his chance
With the devastating news that Wesley will be out for the remainder of the season coming just over 24 hours earlier, Jonathan Kodija knows he is now the club's only fit striker.
There may be additions during the transfer window, but for now the Ivorian carries the responsibility of scoring goals for Villa during a vital part of the season.
And he started in the right way against Fulham, pouncing on an error to bear down on goal and lob the ball over the onrushing Rodak before El Ghazi nipped in to finish it off.
Leading by example
James Chester was back in the team and handed the captain's armband in the absence of Jack Grealish.
The Welshman, on just his second appearance of the season, was instrumental for his team as he took charge of the back four.
Just as against Liverpool on his last outing, Chester showed no signs of being off the pace as he dealt with Fulham's attackers.
A couple of crucial interceptions and headers marked him out as one of Villa's best players.
Empty seats at the Cottage
The prestige of the FA Cup has been questioned in recent seasons as more and more clubs make their league campaigns the priority.
And there didn’t appear to be much appetite for the competition among Fulham fans at Craven Cottage.
Even with one stand out of action for refurbishment, there were plenty of empty seats in the home sections of the ground.
In stark contrast, Villa’s away allocation of 3,135 was sold out, and the visiting supporters outsung their counterparts for most of the afternoon.
Aston Villa head to the King Power Stadium on Wednesday night for the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Leicester City.
The Villans return home to Villa Park next Sunday to take on champions Manchester City in the Premier League (4:30pm KO).